IT’S A DEAL!
Allegedly. (There’s a soundtrack for this.)
Late Monday evening, legislative leaders announced that they had negotiated a compromise on the biennial budget but were short on the details. After weeks upon weeks of laborious waiting, this whole thing could come together with dizzying speed. Here’s what to expect:
The budget details will be released later this morning. There will be an income tax cut, investment in education, property tax relief and welfare reform. In other words, it sounds like there’s a piece of victory for everyone. Presumably, this deal has been cleared with rank-and-file lawmakers.
An amendment will be presented in the House. Sometime after 9 a.m., the House will convene and bring up debate on LD 1019. There will be an amendment presented that contains the budget deal. It is likely to be offered by Rep. Peggy Rotundo, a Lewiston Democrat who as House chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee is the primary sponsor of the budget bill.
There will be debate. We’ll know right away how much support there will be for the compromise. This will be an interesting time to listen to the Legislature if you’re interested in some of the minute details within the compromise, many of which will be revealed in what will be a somewhat coordinated march of speeches. You can listen to what spending $6.5 billion sounds like by clicking here.
The debate could shift to the Senate as early as this afternoon. The tight timeline the Legislature is working on aside, legislative leaders are probably eager to move this budget bill on to Gov. Paul LePage, who has 10 days, not including Sundays, to make a decision about whether he’ll sign the budget, veto it or let it go into law without his signature. This bill needs to be enacted by the end of the month to avoid a state government shutdown.
The BDN will have you covered all day, so stay tuned. If you fall behind, just sign up for the Daily Brief morning email newsletter and you can go to work tomorrow and every morning well-informed about what’s happening at the State House. — Christopher Cousins
$6 million in bond funding for UMaine wind project at stake in new bill
We’re just one day from the Legislature’s adjournment date but new bills are still popping up. On Monday, the House and Senate referred LD 1445 to the Appropriations Committee for a public hearing, which is scheduled for this afternoon.
The bill seeks to re-authorize $6,085,000 in bond money out of a pool of $26.5 million that was approved by voters in 2010. The $6 million constitutes the remaining unspent balance. Voter-approved bonds, in general, expire within five years and this bill proposes to extend that deadline for another five years, until 2020.
According to text of the bill, the money is needed to complete construction of the university’s offshore wind energy demonstration site. According to the fiscal note, sale of the 10-year bond would cost about $1.3 million in interest.
This is interesting in light of the fact that there are other bonds from 2010 that are currently being blocked by LePage, who has a general distaste for borrowing, and that LePage has not proven to be an advocate of wind energy. This bill appears to be buying the state and/or the university some time. — Christopher Cousins
- Legislative leaders strike biennial state budget deal — Christopher Cousins, BDN
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- Maine Senate, House split on right-to-die bill — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- Cost could hold up Maine bill to allow concealed weapons without permit — Scott Thistle, Sun Journal
- River of LePage vetoes, legislative overrides continues — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- Latest effort to deregulate raw milk wins initial approval in Maine House — Mario Moretto, BDN
- House rejects bill to extend anti-discrimination law to people who don’t vaccinate — Mario Moretto, BDN
- Maine Senate deals death blow to latest ‘right-to-work’ bill — Christopher Cousins, BDN
Are you dead? Are you sure about that?
Look around. If you can see things, you’re most likely alive, though the federal government might not agree.
According to a report by the BDN’s Dan MacLeod, an official with the Social Security Administration recently told the U.S. Senate that bureaucratic snafus erroneously “kill off” about 9,000 people a year, including about a half-dozen Mainers.
Luckily, reincarnation is possible. At least on paper. — Christopher Cousins